Taking care of your knitwear


Girl in knit jumper smiling
Everyone loves knitwear, it's great by itself in autumn and because it creates little air pockets against your body its a perfect layer of insulation under a winter jacket. It's fabulous for even the littlest babies because it's comfortable and stretchy.
Every year we sell heaps of gorgeous knitwear at Use-Ta! but unfortunately a lot of knits don't make it to our shelves because they've shrunk, pilled or been pulled out of shape. Part of sustainable shopping is taking care of the things you already have, so here are my top tips for keeping knits so they can be passed on!

If it ain't dirty...

This is kind of obvious (and harder to apply to little kids) but most of the wear and tear on your clothes actually happens when you clean them... If it's possible to wear something again as it is, leave it out of the washing basket. 

When it does need washing... 

Be sure to use a laundry liquid made for delicates. Most laundry detergent uses enzymes which break down proteins, or surfactants that strip oil and grease. Wool is a protein based fibre, which is kept smooth and soft by lanolin which is oily, so regular detergents are no good for your woollies. I'd love to say I hand-wash my knitwear because that's the most gentle method, but let's be real, I use the gentle cycle on my washing machine. In our house we keep our knits and 'nice' clothes separate from the rest of the washing and do one gentle cycle with delicates detergent a week. ALWAYS wash in cold water, both cotton and wool knits shrink in hot water. Avoid the dryer and when you hang your knits out to dry either lay them flat over a few rungs of your drying rack or give them plenty of pegs so they don't stretch under their own weight.

When you store them... 

Keep them folded, rather than hanging. Knits tend to stretch out and become misshapen on coat hangers. When you're ready to store them away over summer, make sure they are spotlessly clean and completely dry. Moth larvae will happily eat any keratin based fibre, but they're particularly fond of clothing that has tiny bits of food or residual moisture. Cedar balls, lavender and rosemary are all natural moth deterrents. 

When something happens to your fave... 

Lots of accidents are easily mended. If you spot a small pull on the fabric but the yarn hasn't broken, see if you can gently stretch the fabric so the loop disappears. If there's a large pull or the yarn has snapped, knot the ends together and pull the knot through the fabric to the underside of the garment. If there's a bigger hole, first check for loose yarn, then use a ballpoint sewing needle and sew it up using your other hand to keep the hole slightly taught so it sits flat when you're done. If your knit has accidentally gone into a hot wash or the dryer and become felted (no longer stretchy and bouncy, fibres locked together) pass it on to a crafty friend to make some super cute slippers

 


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